Indianapolis had squandered a 10-0 first-quarter lead and trailed for most of the second half. But the Colts rallied from a 27-10 deficit with 4:04 left to score 21 unanswered points in securing their second victory of the season.
The Colts scored all three of their touchdowns in a time span of 2:10, thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Peyton Manning to rookie tight end Tom Santi and receiver Reggie Wayne. Sandwiched in between Manning's touchdown throws was a 68-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Gary Brackett.
Robert Mathis bats the ball away from Sage Rosenfels
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Now 2-2, Indianapolis will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for a home game with the Baltimore Ravens this week. The win keeps the Colts — who have yet to win a game in their new stadium this year — in contention for a sixth-straight AFC South title, but it won't be easy as the division-leading Tennessee Titans continue to win.
"We have to look at this and move forward from here. Play the type of defense (that the Colts did late in the fourth quarter of the Houston game by forcing turnovers). We just have to be consistent, play that way for 60 minutes and believe in ourselves to play Colts football like that," said defensive end Raheem Brock.
Wayne said Indianapolis' experience in late-game heroics was a huge factor in its win over Houston. Also a desire to not head into the Baltimore game in last place in the division.
"Halfway through the (Texans) game, you're thinking, 'If we lose this game, we'll be in last place (in the division). I can't remember, other than my rookie year in 2001 (being in last place in the AFC East). So you just keep scratching and biting, just doing whatever it takes to try and pull it out," he said.
"We've been (in that position) before. We've been down to the last seconds of the game. (Experience) has worked in our favor and it also hasn't. It worked out for us (against Houston) and we've got to figure it out (how to win). But we came out with a victory and we go on from here."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We kept fighting. It was a total team effort. (The win) means a lot. We definitely needed some confidence. We hadn't played well the whole game and then to turn it around and play that well at the end. It helps your confidence and gives us a boost. Now we have come out (this week against Baltimore) and play well for an entire 60 minutes." — Colts CB Marlin Jackson, on Indianapolis' comeback win over the Texans.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Colts had been giving up an average of 199.3 yards per game rushing through the first three games of the season. In the win over Houston, Indianapolis still struggled as the defense allowed 156 rushing yards.
— LB Gary Brackett scored the second touchdown of his NFL career when he returned a Sage Rosenfels fumble 68 yards late in the fourth quarter. It was his first touchdown since the 2003 season. Brackett had been shaken up early in the third quarter but was able to come back into the game two plays later.
— S Melvin Bullitt recorded his second career interception to stop a last-gasp late fourth-quarter rally by the Texans. Both of his career interceptions have come against Houston. Bullitt is a native of Bryan, Texas, and played at Texas A&M.
— QB Peyton Manning completed 25 of 34 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the win over the Texans.
— OT Tony Ugoh dressed but did not play against the Texans. Ugoh, the Colts' usual starter at left offensive tackle, suffered a groin injury against Minnesota three weeks ago.
— Rookie OG/C Jamey Richard made his first NFL start at left guard. Richard had previously started the first two games at center.
— Rookie OG Mike Pollak made his first NFL start at right guard. Pollak, the Colts' top draft pick last spring, had been sidelined for the first three games with a knee injury and had undergone arthroscopic surgery on the knee.
— WR Reggie Wayne had a team-high seven catches for 97 yards and the game-winning touchdown grab. Wayne now has 50 career TD catches with the Colts, 49 of those coming from Peyton Manning. One more TD pass from Manning would allow Wayne and WR Marvin Harrison to join former Miami Dolphins' Mark Clayton and Mark Duper as receivers to have 50 TD catches each from the same quarterback.
— CB Marlin Jackson was hurt late in the third quarter. Jackson, though, was able to come back a few plays later. Jackson forced the Sage Rosenfels fumble that led to Gary Brackett's recovery and subsequent TD.
— CB Kelvin Hayden suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and did not return.
— WR Anthony Gonzalez left the game in the second half with a concussion. He did not return.
— Rookie TE Tom Santi hurt his knee in the fourth quarter. He returned on the same offensive possession, however, and caught his first NFL touchdown pass. Santi had four catches for 27 yards in the game.
— S Bob Sanders (ankle/knee) was a pregame inactive.
— LB Buster Davis was a pregame inactive.
— OT Corey Hilliard was a pregame inactive.
— OT Dan Federkeil (ribs) was a pregame inactive.
— WR Roy Hall (hamstring/knee) was a pregame inactive.
— TE Jacob Tamme (ankle) was a pregame inactive.
— DT Daniel Muir (knee) was a pregame inactive.
— DE Marcus Howard was a pregame inactive.